Major Minor Fair on the Washington Univesrsity campus

How to Choose Your Major

It’s the first question I hear when meeting someone new on campus: what’s your major? For me, this question didn’t have an answer until my second-year at WashU. I came in undecided in Arts and Sciences, and officially decided in the Fall of my sophomore year to major in Political Science. While there are endless reasons students decide on their particular major, here’s four pieces of advice I received from friends, family, and faculty that helped me decide:

  1. What do you spend your free time thinking/reading/listening about? For me, this was a no-brainer: I love reading my local paper’s Politics section, spend too much time on Twitter, and obsessively watch the West Wing. This will look different for every student, but start to notice what news article you’re drawn to, or what podcast you can’t get enough of. You just may realize a new interest you didn’t know you had!
  2. Look through the course listings thoroughly. Even if you’re only looking at taking 100-200 level courses your first semester, take a peek at what students in a particular major might be taking their junior/senior year. What stands out? If you’re finding yourself thinking, “Hey, I want to take that!”, maybe keep that major in the back of your mind.
  3. Talk to everyone and anyone who may help you. Whether that’s your advisor, your Residential Advisor who’s already declared, a friend on your intramural basketball team, or a department representative at the Major/Minor fair on campus, learning more can help you become more excited about a potential major or narrow down the list of possibilities.
  4. Enjoy the process. It may seem like your major is the key to unlocking your life path, but it’s really just a way to hone in on some skills and go deeper into material. If you’re finding more than one suits your interests, you’re in luck! Over 80% of WashU students have either a minor or a second major, so you’re in good company if you want to study across disciplines. Additionally, your major does not equal your future job. All of WashU’s major programs will help you develop skills that will help you later on, regardless of what their specific requirements are. Don’t forget you have two years to declare your major – so there’s no rush to know on your first day. Just enjoy the exploration and the breadth of options you have for your four years here!